Do you, like me, have “trigger foods?” These are foods around which you simply have no real control. Not permanent control. When these foods are around you, you canít completely focus on the task at hand without some part of your mind resting on the box, bag, bowl of the stuff. I have found it helps a lot to know what my trigger foods are, and to be very forthright with my friends and family about them. Own up. Fess up. Get it out there.
Because trigger foods trigger binges. And binges bring on weight, which gives me the blues, which sends me looking for the trigger foods, which — well, itís a cyclic thing.
For dealing with trigger foods I model the behavior of friends who are recovering alcoholics. These friends use one of two methods: Careful control or elimination. One of these methods, that is, coupled with constant awareness.
Some foods I can eat with help, through careful control of my purchases and portions. I don’t buy them, or buy them only rarely. When they do make it into my house, I ask my family to keep them away from me except for specific portions at specific times.
Other foods I eliminate completely from my diet, knowing if I eat them, it will ďtriggerĒ eating behaviors and cravings that are sure to lead to weight gain.
Frankly, with most of my trigger foods, I do much better when I eliminate them from my diet completely. The longer I go without them, the stronger I become. I let people know, “I don’t/can’t eat that.”
But that’s me. Your experience is yours. While Iím strengthened through elimination, others are weakened through this denial and find that careful control puts them in charge. With experimentation, youíll find your way to cope with these foods. You need to find the method that makes you feel the most strong, most of the time.
Trigger foods for me are chocolate, potato chips, tortilla chips, chocolate, potato chips, tortilla chips, and chocolate. And potato chips.
Foods that require careful control include anything made with sugar and flour, specificially things that resemble scones, cookies, Danish, muffins, coffeecakes, cakes, pies, sweetrolls, or buns. Shortbread. Things with frosting, sugar sprinkles, cream filling, frosting, cinnamon bits. Things that are glazed. Delicious things.
And I donít go anywhere near nougat. Donít ever show me nougat.
Okay, so maybe it’s not so healthy to create lists.
I know my reaction to these foods is not a matter of actual hunger (stomach is rumbling, feeling a little dizzy), because my reaction to them is far more abrupt and grabby, drooly and Pavlovian. Think Bilbo Baggins around the Ring. If you feel controlled by a food, itís a trigger food.
Trigger foods may be under control at some times of the day or month, but not at others. You may have control under all but certain emotional circumstances. Writing down your binge impulses and recording the events of the day preceding these impulses may help you understand them better.
If your binge eating remains out of control despite your best efforts, itís a good idea to discuss it with your medical team. There are helpful treatments surfacing all the time.